Two quite different sections today. The first section from Uxbridge to Harefield West (4.5 miles / 7 km) was typical Sunday morning busy-ness, with runners, walkers, dogs and boaters enjoying fresh air along the Grand Union Canal. Uxbridge is a very old town with its roots in Saxon times. It was an important market town until the 20th century, and is still a busy thriving town.
Although the canal is used nowadays for leisure there are reminders of the commercial and industrial past even in this more rural stretch.
For example just past Uxbridge lock is the site of Kings Mill. Flour had been milled on this site for a thousand years until the 20th century. In the 19th century a local farmer, William King, bought the mill. Kingsmill is a brand name for bread made by Associated British Foods, named after this very mill! The water power from the rivers nearby powered many mills in the area. Most of London’s flour was produced in this area in the 18th and 19th centuries.
We also passed several lakes – formed from old gravel pits. Now they are used for boating and fishing – and provide habitats for many animals and plants.
Further up the canal we stopped at Jacks Mill cafe for a coffee and a cookie. Suitably refreshed we went on, to finish this section of the walk at the grand mill owner’s house.
The next section, Harefield West to Moor Park ( 5 miles / 8 km), was a contrast. Away from the canals and rivers we walked through farmland, woods and heathland. Although the skies became greyer and the wind picked up a little it remained dry in spite of the gloomy forecast for rain. In the open fields of White Heath Farm we saw flocks of geese. The farm is a dairy farm that supplies milk and dairy products to many shops in the west London area – including the local ‘corner shop’ at the end of my road!
We passed fields with horses in. These horses are celebrity horses who star and feature in many films and television shows. As befits their celebrity status they are kept securely away from the public footpath, and prefer not to look at the camera unless they are being paid. They belong to Steve Dent – take a look at the website here for amazing pictures and information about the horses in action.
A couple of fields later we passed more horses – with warning signs not to approach them as ‘they will bite and kick’. I though that was a bit strong, until we saw another sign that said that these horses were police horses!
We stopped for lunch in a very peaceful wood. There was nobody around – a big contrast to the busy canal path. A feature of the path in this bit was the mud! It has been raining quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, and the mud was exceptionally wet and squishy. Several times we all nearly slipped and ended up in it.
Leaving the rural landscape we found ourselves in leafy suburbia. There was an actual house called Leafy Suburban! It was almost next door to the house where The Good Life was filmed way back in history (the 70’s). We then entered even more leafy suburbia in the form of Moor Park Estate, which has the aura of money and (sometimes questionable) taste all over it.
A short walk along the edge of a huge golf course (Moor Park) brought us to the end of this section at Moor Park station.
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